Monday, January 2, 2017

The MN-WI climate change divide wider than the Blatnik Bridge

I noted the other day the profound differences between approaches to climate science, climate change, communications and direct action between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota is all in, but the Wisconsin "chamber of commerce mentality" head-in-the-sand approach includes the unthinkable: more scrubbing of references to and information about climate change from official, public and taxpayer-paid web pages:

Climate change censors driven by science denial and obeisance to polluters these days at the GOP-managed, Scott Walker-redefined "chamber of commerce mentality" Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are at it again.
Not content with having already stripped content and links from an agency webpage about climate change - - deletions I documented some years ago and which I have frequently referenced - - the ideologues intent on scrubbing science off these pages and sowing doubt and confusion about the consensus view of experts worldwide about climate change have edited, deleted and otherwise compressed to whitewash long-standing concepts and facts off a climate change page about the Great Lakes...
You'd think these two states were on different sides of the country with totally different environments, or on different continents or planets.

Politically - - these days - - they are - -  and Wisconsin's hostility to climate change is going to be bad for both states' people, water, land and air.

Though the two neighboring states have much in common that should drive regional cooperation: culture, college students, a north-south border, responsibilities for the Mississippi River and Lake Superior, the Superior, WI and Duluth, MN twin cities joined by a harbor and the Blatnik Bridge, not to mention the Wisconsinites who live in the Eau Claire area and commute to Minnesota, regardless of NFL rivalries.

Want to see more evidence of how far behind is Wisconsin from Minnesota when it comes to climate change recognition, environmental protection and, most importantly, the economic benefits of green, clean businesses so studiously ignored by GOP Gov. Scott Walker but which underpin the affirmative Minnesota approach - - where job growth has been leaving Wisconsin in the dust

Well, start with this web page to read about "Climate Solutions and Economic Opportunities," opening with a statement by the Minnesota Lt. Governor:

The need for action is clear: Minnesota is already feeling the impacts of climate change. We have experienced four 1,000-year rainfalls since 2002. We have watched our spruce, aspen, and birch forests retreat northward. And air pollution related to greenhouse gas emissions annually cost us more than $800 million in increased health care costs. 
Addressing climate change also has the potential to grow our economy. By aggressively investing, Minnesota could add 25,000 new jobs and generate more than $2 billion in additional wages during the next 15 years. To achieve these results, Minnesota needs clean energy policies that have an immediate impact on reducing emissions from our homes, buildings, and industries. 
We also need long-term strategies to transform our communities and their transportation systems to reduce our use of gasoline. We also must protect and increase the carbon stored in our wetlands, forests, and agricultural lands. These actions will not only help us address climate change, but will also support habitat and water quality, benefiting public health and wildlife. Working together, we can take steps that protect the environment, improve our health, and grow our economy.  
Who is addressing the situation in Wisconsin in state government with language and goals and coordination and commitment like this?

No one. 

Because Walker is taking the state in the opposite direction:

Walker is adding to the release of greenhouse gases in Wisconsin by having blocked a federally-financed Amtrak line between Milwaukee and Madison that was part of the Midwest High-Speed Rail program, killed a state-owned power plant conversion in Madison from coal to biomass, actively blocked wind farm construction projects, discouraged solar power by allowing through the Public Service Commission higher installation fees, expanded highway financing while cutting local transit assistance, tried unsuccessfully to end all state support for recycling, and has opened more state land, shorelines and forests to clearing and development.
He also slashed the DNR's budget, cut the agency's science positions, unsuccessfully tried to end several University system environmental programs and, separately, to convert the DNR's long-standing policy oversight board to advisory status-only, and sued the federal government over clean air rules though several lakeshore counties with a history of ozone pollution will be out of compliance in 2017, regardless of DNR spin
Then shift to this website put up by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, that state's equivalent agency to Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.

Then note that that the MN DNR is part of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.

Wisconsin has no equivalent coordinating agency or its purview, so, again, no one in Wisconsin state government has this portfolio or intention on the public's behalf.

No wonder Minnesota is leaving us in the dust: 

The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board is made up of 9 agency heads and 5 citizen members.  In addition to other duties, we provide leadership and coordination across agencies on priority environmental issues that are multi-jurisdictional, and multi-dimensional, as well as provide for opportunities for public access and engagement.
Our mission is to lead Minnesota environmental policy by responding to key issues, providing appropriate review and coordination, serving as a public forum and developing long-range strategies to enhance Minnesota's environmental quality.
The Environmental Quality Board consists of a Governor's representative (by law the board chair), nine state agency heads and five citizen members. Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 103A, 103B, 116C, 116D and 116G (Statutes and Rules of the EQB), directs EQB to:
  • Ensure compliance with state environmental policy
  • Oversee the environmental review process
  • Coordinate agencies and programs that affect the environment
  • Study environmental issues
  • Convene environmental congresses
  • Coordinate assessments of water resources
  • Develop water priorities and policy reports
  • Develop the state water plan
  • Administer critical areas designation and management
  • Coordinate development of an integrated state energy and environmental strategy report
  • Advise the Governor and the Legislature.

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